February 2021 - Hidden Talents ABA

59 Inspirational Quotes About Autism

At Hidden Talents ABA, we understand how difficult it is to raise a child with autism. While our ABA therapists will be able to help your child manage their autism, you still need a pick me up from time to time. 

We have put together these quotes about autism to help inspire you and to help remind yourself how special your child is.  

  • “Autism… offers us a chance for us to glimpse an awe-filled vision of the world that might otherwise pass us by.” – Dr. Colin Zimbleman
  • “Don’t think that there’s a different, better child ‘hiding’ behind the autism. This is your child. Love the child in front of you. Encourage his strengths, celebrate his quirks, and improve his weaknesses, the way you would with any child. You may have to work harder on some of this, but that’s the goal.” – Claire Scovell LaZebnik
  • “Do not fear people with autism; embrace them. Do not spite people with autism; unite them. Do not deny people with autism; accept them, for then their abilities will shine.” – Paul Issacs
  • “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism” – Dr. Stephen Shore
  • “Children with autism are colorful – They are often very beautiful and, like the rainbow, they stand out.” – Adele Devine
  • “Autists are the square pegs, and the problem with pounding a square peg into a round hole is not that the hammering is hard work. It’s that you’re destroying the peg.” – Paul Collins
  • “I am different, not less.” – Dr. Temple Grandin
  • “If they can’t learn the way we teach, we teach the way they learn.” – O. Ivar Lovaas
  • “Kids need to be encouraged to stretch their shine!” – Amanda Friedman
  •  “It takes a village to raise a child. It takes a child with autism to raise the awareness of that village.” – Elaine Hall
  • “Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible” – Frank Zappa
  • “It seems that for success in science and art, a dash of autism is essential” – Hans Asperger
  • “Even for parents of children who are not on the spectrum, there is no such thing as a normal child.” – Violet Stevens
  • “Autism is part of my child. It’s not everything he is. My child is so much more than a diagnosis.” – S.L. Coelho
  • “Autism can’t define me. I define autism.” – Kerry Magro
  • “There needs to be a lot more emphasis on what a child can do instead of on what he cannot do.” – Dr. Temple Grandin
  •  “To measure the success of our societies, we should examine how well those with different abilities, including persons with autism, are integrated as full and valued members.” – Ban Ki-Moon
  • “The most interesting people you’ll find are ones that don’t fit into your average cardboard box. They’ll make what they need, they’ll make their own boxes.” – Dr. Temple Grandin
  • “Autism is like a rainbow. It has a bright side and a darker side. But every shade is important and beautiful.” – Rosie Tennant Doran
  • “I am autistic and I am proud” – Sez Francis, Autism Advocate
  • “Autism is really more of a difference that needs to be worked with rather than a monolithic enemy that needs to be slain or destroyed.” – Dr. Stephen Shore
  • “Autism doesn’t have to define a person. Artists with autism are like everyone else: They define themselves through hard work and individuality.” – Adrienne Bailon
  • “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” – Dr. Seuss
  • “Autism makes you listen louder. It makes you pay attention to an emotional level as well as an intellectual level.” – Jace King
  • “Children with autism develop all kinds of enthusiasms… perhaps focusing on one topic gives the child a sense of control, of predictability and security in a world that can be unpredictable and feel scary.” – Barry M. Prizant
  • “I’ve learned that every human being, with or without disabilities, needs to strive to do their best, and by striving for happiness you will arrive at happiness. For us, you see, having autism is normal — so we can’t know for sure what your ‘normal’ is even like. But so long as we can learn to love ourselves, I’m not sure how much it matters, whether we’re normal or autistic.” – Naoki Higashida
  • “When enough people care about autism or diabetes or global warming, it helps everyone, even if only a tiny fraction actively participate.” – Seth Godin
  • “When a family focuses on ability instead of the disability, all things are possible… Love and acceptance is key. We need to interact with those with autism by taking an interest in their interests.” – Amanda Rae Ross
  • “We cry, we scream, we hit out and break things. But still, we don’t want you to give up on us. Please, keep battling alongside us.” – Naoki Higashida
  • “Why should I cry for not being an apple, when I was born an orange? I’d be crying for an illusion, I may as well cry out for not being a horse.” – Donna Williams
  • “Autism: where the “randomness of life” collides and clashes with an individual’s need for sameness.” – Eileen Miller
  • “What would happen if the autism gene was eliminated from the gene pool? You would have a bunch of people standing around in a cave, chatting and socializing and not getting anything done.” – Temple Grandin
  • “The difference between high-functioning and low-functioning is that high-functioning means your deficits are ignored, and low-functioning means your assets are ignored.” – Laura Tisoncik
  • “Autism is as much a part of humanity as is the capacity to dream.” – Kathleen Seidel
  • “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein
  • “What I like to tell parents is that raising a child with autism is running a marathon. It’s not a sprint.” – Dr. Brian Bowman
  • “Get to know someone on the spectrum and your life will truly be blessed.” – Stephanie L. Parker
  • “Disability is a matter of perception. If you can do just one thing well, you’re needed by someone.” – Martina Navratilova
  • “If you’re always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” – Maya Angelou
  • “Our duty in autism is not to cure but to relieve suffering and to maximize each person’s potential.” – John Elder Robison
  • “Disability doesn’t make you exceptional, but questioning what you think you know about it does.” – Stella Young
  • “Those without obsessive focus have to take classes to cultivate it.” – Rudy Simone
  • “I might hit developmental and social milestones in a different order than my peers, but I am able to accomplish these small victories on my own time.” – Haley Moss
  • “Kids have to be exposed to different things in order to develop. A kid’s not going to find out he likes to play a musical instrument if you never exposed him to it.” – Temple Grandin
  • “Our experiences are all unique. Regardless, I do believe that it is important to find the beautiful. Recognize that there is bad, there is ugly, there is disrespect, there is ignorance, and there are meltdowns. Those things are inevitable. But there is also good.” – Erin McKinney
  • “At the end of the day, we don’t dream our lives… we LIVE them!” – Anthony Ianni
  • “Everyone has a mountain to climb, and autism has not been my mountain, it has been my opportunity for victory.” – Rachel Barcellona
  • “This is a FOREVER journey with this creative, funny, highly intelligent, aggressive, impulsive, nonsocial, behavioral, oftentimes loving individual. The nurse said to me after 6 hours with him, “He is a gift”. INDEED he is.” – Janet Frenchette Held, parent
  • “Behavior is communication. Change the environment and behaviors will change.” – Lana David
  • “The way we look at our children and their limitations is precisely the way they will feel about themselves. We set the examples, and they learn by taking our cue from us.” – Amalia Starr
  • “My autism is the reason I’m in college and successful. It’s the reason I’m good in math and science. It’s the reason I care.” – Jacob Barnett, 16-year-old math and physics prodigy
  • “I know of nobody who is purely autistic or purely neurotypical. Even God had some autistic moments, which is why the planets all spin.” – Jerry Newport
  • “I believe everyone on the planet has their thing and, especially in my experience, autistic people all have a tremendous gift. It’s a matter of finding that gift and nurturing it.” – Edie Brannigan, mother of Mikey Brannigan
  • “Mild autism doesn’t mean one experiences autism mildly… it means YOU experience their autism mildly. You may not know how hard they’ve had to work to get to the level they are.” – Adam Walton
  • “Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of who do the things no one can imagine.” – Alan Turing
  • Within every living child exists the most precious bud of self-identity. To search this out and foster it with loving care, that is the essence of educating an autistic child.” – Dr. Kiyo Kitahara
  • “Stop thinking about normal… you don’t have a big enough imagination for what your child can become.” – Johnny Seitz
  • “What makes a child gifted may not always be good grades in school, but a different way of looking at the world and learning.” – Chuck Grassley
  • “Let’s give people with autism more opportunities to demonstrate what they feel, what they imagine, what comes naturally to them through humor and the language of sensory experience. As we learn more about autism, let’s not forget to learn from those with autism. There are poets walking among you and they have much to teach.” – Chris Martin

 

At Hidden Talents ABA, we understand that every child on the autism spectrum is unique. Our experienced therapists in Atlanta work closely with you and your child to create a personalized plan focused on their specific needs and strengths. We use evidence-based ABA therapy techniques to help your child develop skills in communication, social interaction, daily living, and academics. With compassion and dedication, our team will help your child reach their full potential and thrive within the Atlanta community.

Positive Reinforcement and Autism

Positive reinforcement is a process of recognizing, rewarding, and encouraging desired behaviors. 

As one of the most important principles of ABA therapy, this technique is crucial for achieving meaningful behavioral changes in children with autism. Here’s a closer look at positive reinforcement and the way ABA therapists use it to help autistic children learn and maintain new skills.

What Is Positive Reinforcement?

Applied behavior analysis (ABA), is a therapy that focuses on increasing desired behaviors and reducing undesired ones, is a standard treatment for children with autism spectrum disorder. 

Positive reinforcement is the main behavioral management technique used by ABA therapists, where a child who complies with a request for behavior change is given an incentive. The aim is to have the child respond to reinforcement with positive behavior. 

A reinforcer can be any object or activity that is effective in strengthening and maintaining the desired behavior. Primary reinforcers are natural and include sleep and food, for example. Secondary reinforcers, ranging from praise to stickers and tokens, vary from child to child and are developed over time. 

The least intrusive type of reinforcers is praise and the most intrusive one is food, with many different reinforcer types in between, such as preferred activities, tangible items like toys, privileges, and tokens. 

Reinforcers that work for one child may not work for another—some children are happy to get stickers for a reward chart while others respond better to words of encouragement. Whatever the preferences, the goal of the positive reinforcement technique is that praise eventually becomes the only necessary reward.

What Is the Importance of Positive Reinforcement in Autism?

For children with autism spectrum disorder and their families, positive reinforcement—and ABA therapy in general—can be life changing. This method helps autistic children acquire new skills that can be extremely challenging to teach and maintain. Some of these skills include: 

  • Verbal communication
  • Non-verbal communication
  • Social interactions
  • Academic performance 
  • Functional life skills
  • Adaptive learning skills.

When a desirable behavior is followed by a reinforcer, such as a special toy or activity, children are more likely to repeat the action. Over time, positive reinforcement can encourage behavioral changes. In addition, the technique can help children with autism learn alternatives to repetitive behaviors and prevent undesirable behaviors such as aggression.

One of the major advantages of positive reinforcement for children with autism spectrum disorder is the fact that this is a continuous and predictable learning method they can depend on. What’s more, autistic children often have a fixation on a single activity and find it difficult to transition to a new one. 

Positive reinforcement allows them to know what to expect if they perform a task properly. It helps them realize that switching activities can be a positive experience, rather than a frustrating one.

How ABA Therapists Use Positive Reinforcement

ABA therapists use positive reinforcement to turn their observations of what triggers a child’s behaviors into patterns of improvement. The technique is based on the ABC model of behavior modification, which is one of the central concepts in applied behavior analysis. The model consists of the following steps:

  • Antecedent—a situation or an item that triggers the behavior in question. 
  • Behavior—the action performed as a result of the antecedent. It can be both positive and negative.
  • Consequence—the outcome of those actions. It can be used to encourage or stop the behavior, depending on whether the behavior is positive or negative.

Identify needs

The ABA therapist will start by determining your child’s existing skill levels and identifying the main areas of improvement to work on. Subsequently, the therapist will develop an individualized program to teach new skills and behaviors, tailored to your child’s needs, abilities, and interests. Because every autistic child, family, and situation is different, the ABA therapy plan is always devised to suit individual needs.

The therapist will help your child acquire and build new skills by systematically applying positive reinforcement techniques. This method is a key tool in increasing the likelihood that new, positive behaviors will be repeated and retained long-term.

Choose reinforcers

After having determined what is most meaningful or motivating to your child and what your child has responded well to previously, the ABA therapist will choose the appropriate reinforcers. This may be a specific toy, a favorite game, or an activity. Therapists usually have a variety of reinforcers available and customize reinforcement methods for each child. 

ABA therapists often start with reinforcers that are the least intrusive before moving to the most intrusive ones. Also, they will often pair a primary reinforcer with another item to create a secondary reinforcer, like saying “good job” while at the same time giving your child a small edible reinforcer such as a candy or a raisin. 

The motivator, especially when it is a food item, is always paired with encouragement, praise, and attention. The reinforcement is done by repeating positive responses to the reinforcer until your child starts associating the action with the reward. 

Measure success

The therapist will gradually increase requirements for gaining access to the reinforcement. As your child starts acquiring the new behavior with less guidance, the use of the reinforcer is reduced. 

Verbal encouragement will eventually become enough as the only motivator for positive behaviors. When your child starts displaying the desired behavior without the need for modeling, prompting, or positive reinforcement, he or she has mastered the skill.

Working together 

In addition to fostering the developmental needs of a child with autism, ABA therapy programs also engage parents and caretakers in the process. 

The best therapy results are achieved through a collaborative effort where everyone agrees on what behaviors to target. In general, any new behavior that you are introducing or any positive behavior that you would like to see increased should be reinforced. 

In addition to increasing positive behaviors and encouraging learning, your ABA therapist will work with you to ensure your child’s inappropriate behaviors such as tantrums, whining, and aggressions are not being reinforced. 

The Ethicality of Positive Reinforcement

Even though the theory of behavioral psychology outlines several different types of reinforcements, current ABA therapy programs for children with autism focus mainly on positive reinforcement. Not only is this the most effective behavior management strategy in children with autism spectrum disorder, but it is often seen as the epitome of ethical practice in ABA therapy. 

Negative reinforcement and punishment

Negative reinforcement is another method ABA therapists use to strengthen behaviors. Contrary to positive reinforcement, something is taken away as a consequence of a behavior, resulting in a favorable outcome. 

When an autistic child demonstrates an aversion to a particular item, activity, or sensory experience, negative reinforcement (removing the stimulus) can be used to teach an adaptive way to react. For example, a child who says “I don’t want to do that” and is allowed to avoid the task, has achieved negative reinforcement for using functional communication instead of having an angry outburst. 

Negative reinforcement should not be confused with punishments like time-outs or loss of privileges. With both positive and negative reinforcement, the goal is to increase the desired behavior. 

Punishment, on the other hand, is meant to decrease or weaken undesirable behavior. Contrary to reinforcements, it does not teach a new behavior, but only focuses on decreasing the unwanted one. 

Punishment as a method is not acceptable in ABA therapy. The BACB’s Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysts requires that, whenever possible, reinforcement strategies are implemented before considering punishment procedures.

Aversive reinforcement

The early criticisms against therapists practicing ABA were due to the fact that ABA therapy was not necessarily based only on the principles of positive reinforcement. 

In some circumstances, the early ABA therapists used aversive reinforcement or punishment involving physical or psychological discomfort to obtain positive outcomes. At that time, autism was still thought of as a behavioral disorder and not a complex genetic, environmental, and developmental condition as it is today. 

Therapists believed that using punishment would prevent children from displaying disassociation, aggression, and other challenging behaviors associated with autism.

Today, ABA therapy is a flexible approach based on breaking down a skill and reinforcing desired behaviors through rewards. The use of aversive reinforcement is considered an unethical method when working with autistic children. 

Activities in Atlanta that can be used as Positive Reinforcement

Here are some activities in Atlanta that can be used for positive reinforcement:

  • Georgia Aquarium: This world-class aquarium is home to thousands of species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, and marine mammals. A trip to the Georgia Aquarium can be a great positive reinforcement for completing tasks or good behavior.
  • Atlanta Science Center: The Atlanta Science Center is a great place for kids to learn about science and technology in a fun and interactive way.
  • Six Flags Over Georgia: For a day of thrills and excitement, Six Flags Over Georgia is a great option.
  • Piedmont Park: Piedmont Park is a large park in the middle of Atlanta that offers a variety of activities, such as biking, hiking, and picnicking.
  • Atlanta Children’s Museum: The Atlanta Children’s Museum is a great place for young children to learn and play.

The Best ABA Therapy Program in the Atlanta Area

The Hidden Talents ABA team of highly experienced ABA therapists and Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) provides loving and ethical care for your child. Our professionals deliver a wide range of personalized and comprehensive treatment options to create lasting positive behavioral changes. They work closely with families to encourage optimal learning opportunities for each child. 

Contact Hidden Talents ABA to learn more about the benefits of positive reinforcement and other applied behavior analysis techniques used by our therapists. You can call us at 404-487-6005 to schedule a consultation. If you reside outside the Atlanta area, we encourage you to browse through our helpful resources on autism.

Regressive Autism

Are you an Atlanta parent worried about your child’s recent regression in communication and social skills? This could be a sign of regressive autism, a condition where a seemingly typically developing child experiences a sudden loss of these skills. Here in Atlanta, we have a wealth of resources available to help you navigate this challenging diagnosis. This article will provide you with key information about regressive autism, its signs and symptoms, and most importantly, the treatment options, such as ABA therapy, available right here in Atlanta.

Continue reading to find out more about regressive autism, its signs and symptoms, and available treatments. 

What Is Regressive Autism?

Regressive autism occurs when a child who seems to develop typically all of a sudden starts losing communication abilities, social skills, or both. After that, the child continues to follow the standard pattern of autistic neurological development. The condition is also known as autism with regression, autistic regression, setback-type autism, and acquired autistic syndrome.

How common is regressive autism?

Regressive autism was for many years considered being a rare occurrence and classified as a subtype of autism. However, recent studies confirm that anywhere from 13 to 48 percent of autism diagnoses are of the regressive type, depending on how regression is defined. Today, this condition is no longer considered an exception, and most researchers believe that there is no clear divide between early onset and regression when it comes to autism.

Many children with regressive autism show some less apparent symptoms of the condition even before they start losing language and social skills. In fact, autism is thought to have a range of different onset patterns, including:

  • Early onset with early developmental delays but no subsequent loss of skills
  • Ordinary regression with no apparent delays before a skill loss
  • Regression where early delays are followed by loss of skills, and
  • Plateau where there is a failure to learn new skills, but no apparent early delays or later skill losses. 

At What Age Does Regressive Autism Starts?

Regressive autism typically starts between the ages of 15 and 30 months. The average age at which a decline in skills is observed in children diagnosed with regressive autism is 19 months. 

What are the Signs of Regressive Autism in a Child?

The loss of verbal and nonverbal communication and social skills in an otherwise typically developing child can be slow or rapid. It is usually followed by a lengthy period of stagnation in skill development. 

The most common early signs of regressive autism in children include:

  • Not responding when their name is called 
  • Echolalia or the tendency to repeat words and phrases uttered by others 
  • Giving unrelated answers when asked questions 
  • Reversing the use of pronouns and using “you” instead of “I”
  • Inability to point at objects or things of interest
  • Low to zero social skills
  • Avoiding eye contact and physical contact
  • Failure to understand their own and other people’s feelings.

In addition, children with regressive autism may exhibit other signs and symptoms typical of autism spectrum disorder, such as:

  • Flapping hands, spinning in circles, and rocking the body
  • Strong emotional reactions to changes in daily activities and routines
  • Over-sensitivity or under-sensitivity to sounds, smell, taste, and touch 
  • Extreme anxiety and phobias
  • Impulsivity or acting without thinking
  • Extremely active or hyperactive behavior
  • Unusual eating and sleeping habits including sleep regression
  • Always playing with toys in the same way
  • A tendency to line up toys and other objects
  • Interest in specific parts of objects, such as the wheels of toy cars
  • Obsessive and unusual interests and behaviors.

How to Diagnose a Child With Regressive Autism?

Specialists and health professionals will rely on a variety of tools to test whether your child has autism spectrum disorder. 

Multidisciplinary assessment teams typically consist of a psychologist, a speech pathologist, as well as a pediatrician or child psychiatrist. After observing how your child plays and interacts with others, reviewing your child’s developmental history, and conducting interviews with the family, they will make a diagnosis. 

Once your child is diagnosed with regressive autism, specialists will help you identify the most suitable treatment plan.

Can Regressive Autism Be Reversed?

Although full recovery from autism may not be possible, appropriate therapy can provide autistic children with the tools to function independently and significantly improve their condition. 

It is crucial that a child with regressive autism receives the proper diagnosis early on. The earlier treatment begins, the better outcomes can be achieved, reducing and even eliminating some of the symptoms. Because every child with autism spectrum disorder is different, progress will vary from one child to another. 

Therapies for Children with Regressive Autism

Experts recommend the use of various behavioral and educational therapies as effective treatments for autistic children, including those diagnosed with regressive autism. Because no two individuals with autism are alike, these therapies usually provide targeted treatments based on your child’s individual needs. 

Applied behavioral analysis (ABA)

Applied behavior analysis is a form of behavioral therapy that focuses on changing unwanted behaviors while reinforcing desirable ones. It is one of the most successful interventions for helping children with autism learn desired behaviors. With an over 90 percent improvement rate, ABA therapy is currently the most effective form of autism treatment.

This type of therapy is used to build and strengthen social and communication skills in children with autism spectrum disorder such as:

  • Following directions
  • Understanding social cues like facial expressions and body language
  • Improving social skills, including initiating conversations and responding to questions
  • Reducing problematic behaviors like tantrums, and
  • Acquiring basic academic and pre-academic skills.

ABA therapy breaks down each of the essential skills into small, concrete steps. It then builds toward more significant changes in functioning and independence levels. An ABA therapy session typically consists of a combination of play, direct instructions, various activities, adaptive skills training, and parent guidance.

Applied behavioral analysis therapy uses positive reinforcement in the form of rewards and other incentives. When a desirable behavior is followed by a motivator, like a special toy or activity, children are more likely to repeat the action. Over time, this method can encourage positive behavioral changes in children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

Sensory integration

Most children with autism spectrum disorder have at least some degree of sensory processing dysfunction like over-sensitivity or under-sensitivity to light, sound, smell, taste, or touch. In fact, sensory issues are among the principal symptoms of autism. They are also believed to be the underlying reason for common autistic behaviors such as rocking, spinning, and hand-flapping.

Sensory integration therapy focuses on normalizing three senses: vestibular (the sense of motion and balance), tactile (the sense of touch), and proprioception (the sense of movement). Sensory integration sessions include activities that stimulate sensory responses, and in particular those related to balance and physical movement such as swinging, bouncing, or climbing. This method helps autistic children learn how to use all their senses together and how to interpret and use sensory information more effectively. 

Sensory integration therapy is designed to be part of more comprehensive programs for children with autism, including speech therapy, behavioral therapy, and educational therapy. It is typically provided by an occupational therapist. 

Speech therapy

Children on the autism spectrum usually have a number of communication and speech-related challenges. While some autistic children are not able to speak at all, others have difficulties maintaining a conversation or understanding body language and facial expressions when talking with others. Speech therapy helps improve verbal, nonverbal, and social communication and at the same time teaches children with autism how to communicate in more functional ways.

Speech therapy is done by a speech-language pathologist (SLP). A speech therapy program starts with an evaluation of your child’s strengths and weaknesses related to communication. Based on this assessment, the speech-language pathologist will set a goal for the therapy. Some skills that your child may work on include:

  • Strengthening the mouth, jaw, and neck muscles
  • Learning how to make clearer speech sounds
  • Matching emotions with the correct facial expression
  • Leaning nonverbal skills and body language
  • Modulating the tone of voice
  • Responding to questions
  • Matching a picture with its meaning.

Autistic children with severe language problems may find it easier to use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems. In this case, speech therapy will particularly focus on teaching communication through either picture exchange communication systems (PECS), sign language, or speech output devices such as DynaVox.

Vision training

Visual problems are common in children with autism and include issues such as: 

  • Lack of eye contact
  • Staring at spinning objects or light
  • Fleeting peripheral glances
  • Side viewing
  • Eye movement disorders
  • Crossed eyes
  • Hypersensitive vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Visual stimming, for example, flapping fingers in front of eyes
  • Visual defensiveness or avoiding contact with specific visual input like bright lights.

The goal of vision treatment is to help autistic children organize their visual space, improve eye coordination and enhance visual information processing. Achieving these goals can help the child feel less overwhelmed by visual stimuli and interact more easily with its environment.

Vision training is typically done by a vision therapist. It involves eye exercises and the use of ambient prism lenses that are worn in standard eyeglass frames, but feature wedge prism lenses instead of regular refractive ones. This type of therapy may lessen or totally eliminate many of the issues related to vision. Besides, the treatment is also proven to be beneficial for improving posture, head-tilt, spatial awareness, and coordination in children with autism. 

Auditory integration training (AIT)

Atypical sensory experience is one of the common symptoms of autism spectrum disorder. Compared to their neurotypical peers, children with autism are more likely to have unusual sensory responses, such as adverse reactions or indifference to sensations, that may cause discomfort or confusion.

Auditory integration training aims to reduce sensitivity to sounds and other issues with processing sounds in autistic children. It has been proven to reduce distortions in hearing, extremely sensitive hearing, and irregularities in how sounds are processed. Some practitioners believe that auditory integration training also helps improve speech and language difficulties in children with autism.

The Berard method of auditory integration training is an intervention designed to correct or improve disruptions in the brain and body system that interfere with a child’s ability to process information correctly. The therapy starts by presenting familiar sounds. Over time, more challenging sounds, usually those with a high or low frequency, are introduced. This allows children to slowly get used to the sounds until they no longer represent a problem.

Several other types of sound therapy have documented benefits for children with autism: 

The Tomatis approach 

This therapy is designed to improve listening, speech, and communication skills in autistic children, in addition to strengthening balance and coordination skills. Your child will be using headphones to listen to electronically modified music and other sounds in order to exercise the muscles in the ear and stimulate connections between the ear and the brain.

The Samonas Sound Therapy (SST)

During the Samonas sound therapy, therapeutic music provides direct stimulation to the central nervous system. It trains the auditory system to process the full range of sounds without distortion, hypersensitivity, or frequency loss.

The Listening Program (TLP)

This auditory intervention program is a music-based therapy that uses psychoacoustically modified classical music to provide auditory stimulation and improve brain functioning. It is an effective stand-alone intervention, but it can also be successfully integrated with other treatments such as ABA, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and neurodevelopmental programs.

At the core of all types of auditory training is strengthening the foundation of a child’s neurological functioning, including auditory processing and attention. Although it is possible to find some approved Berard AIT practitioners, no formal qualification is necessary for providing auditory integration training. In practice, the therapy is mostly offered by speech and language pathologists or occupational therapists.

Tools for Parents to Cope With Regressive Autism

While it is a rewarding experience, caring for a child with autism can be extremely challenging, both physically and emotionally. Here are some resources that will help you and your family cope after your child is diagnosed with regressive autism:

  • Autism parent support groups are some of the best sources of support and information about caring for children with autism.
  • MyAutismTeam is a social network for parents of children with autism spectrum disorder. Here you can connect with other parents, receive emotional support, and get practical advice and insights on managing autism.
  • National Autism Association (NAA) is a parent-run non-profit organization with 1.6 million online members. It offers information on issues related to regressive autism, severe autism, autism safety, autism abuse, and crisis prevention. The organization also provides lots of valuable resources and safety tips, as well as downloadable guides and toolkits for parents of autistic children.
  • Autism Speaks is the largest autism organization in the country that works to promote awareness about the condition. It provides comprehensive information on all aspects of autism, from signs and symptoms to diagnoses and treatments.
  • Autism Speaks Sibling’s Guide to Autism and Sibling Support Page from Organization for Autism Research (OAR) are useful sources of information for children whose siblings are diagnosed with autism.
  • Social stories can help children with autism spectrum disorder improve their communication and social skills. Numerous social story templates are available for free download. 
  • Language Therapy for Children with Autism is one of the most popular autism apps. It uses the Mental Imagery Therapy for Autism (MITA) approach to help children with autism reach language development milestones and speak confidently. 
  • Other useful apps for parents of autistic children include Birdhouse for Autism, AutiSpark, and Proloquo2Go

If your child in Atlanta has been diagnosed with regressive autism, getting them the right treatment early on is crucial. Hidden Talents ABA is a local therapy center with a team of experienced Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) who specialize in creating personalized treatment plans for children on the autism spectrum. They offer in-home therapy services throughout the Atlanta area, bringing convenience and comfort to your family during this challenging time. Hidden Talents ABA focuses on helping children regain lost skills and develop new ones, fostering communication, social interaction, and independence. You can learn more about their services and schedule a consultation by visiting their website at https://hiddentalentsaba.com/ or calling them at 404-487-6005.

We’re Here For You and Your Child

Hidden Talents ABA provides treatment for children with autism spectrum disorder. Our focus is to help children grow and thrive by improving communication, social and adaptive skills. Learn more about our services at hiddentalentsaba.com

Image of a child with autism and his teacher with the quote 'We're here for you and your child'.

Atypical Autism

Children with atypical autism usually display milder symptoms than their peers on the spectrum. But because they still struggle with some of the similar challenges as other autistic children, including communication difficulties and issues with processing sensory information, they may benefit from the same therapies and support. 

Continue reading to find out more about atypical autism and how ABA therapy can be used to help children with the condition. 

Effective Routines for Children with autism

What Is Atypical Autism?

Atypical autism is one of the official autism diagnoses that were used before the introduction of the term autism spectrum disorder. The clinical name for atypical autism is Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified or PDD-NOS. Other terms to describe atypical autism include autistic tendencies, autistic traits, and a subthreshold diagnosis.

The term atypical autism was first used in 1994 in the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), the textbook reference that medical professionals use to identify and diagnose mental disorders. 

The manual classified atypical autism as a subgroup of the autism diagnosis. The term was used to describe anyone who didn’t fit into the Pervasive Developmental Disorders categories—autistic disorder or severe autism, Asperger syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and Rett’s syndrome—due to atypical symptoms, late onset age, or both.

In terms of severity, atypical autism was placed between Asperger syndrome and typical childhood disintegrative disorder autism. It was considered to be a mild form of autism that didn’t necessarily require treatment or therapeutic intervention.

Atypical autism and autism spectrum disorder

With the publication of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) in 2013, all former categories of autism were merged into a single diagnosis known as autism spectrum disorder. 

The pervasive developmental disorders, along with atypical autism, were removed from the official classification. Studies show that around half of the children who would be diagnosed with atypical autism in the past meet the diagnostic criteria for autistic spectrum disorder.

Today, autism spectrum disorder is the only diagnostic category used for autism, regardless of where on the spectrum your child is. The autism severity assessment scale (levels 1-3) is based on the extent of support needed for daily function. However, the term atypical autism is still occasionally used to describe children and adults who have only some symptoms of autism, but lack some of the other defining characteristics.

The Symptoms of Atypical Autism 

Autism affects three areas: verbal and non-verbal communication, social behavior, and flexible thinking and behavior. Children diagnosed with atypical autism share the majority of characteristics of autism, although these don’t necessarily appear across all three categories. They usually display milder developmental and social delays and less stereotypical autistic behaviors than their peers on the spectrum. 

Children with atypical autism may struggle with some, though not all, symptoms of autism, including: 

Inappropriate or unusual social behavior

Children who have atypical autism may experience difficulties socializing with other children and communicating in socially appropriate ways, like making eye contact or letting another person take a turn in a conversation.

Irregular motor development

Most autistic children, also those diagnosed with atypical autism, have at least some motor difficulties. These include both gross-motor skills problems, such as poor balance and coordination, and fine-motor issues like manipulating objects and poor handwriting. 

Delayed cognitive development

Children with atypical autism frequently struggle with focus, transitions, memory, time management, and emotional control. Like other children with ASD, they may find it hard to pay attention, communicate, and understand other people’s perspectives. These challenges may impact their learning and development.

Slow development of speech and language comprehension

For autistic children, it may be harder to learn and use language than it is for typically developing children because they are often more focused on what is going on around them than communicating with others. They might be slower to develop and understand language and have difficulties expressing themselves. 

Verbal and nonverbal communication issues

Atypical autism is characterized by a communication deficit that may manifest itself as an unusual speech pattern, poor grammatical structure, and lack of intonation and rhythm. 

Sensitivity to taste, sight, sound, smell, and tactile sensations

Research shows that close to 90 percent of people diagnosed with autism have either extreme sensory sensitivity or hardly notice sensations such as colors, sounds, or smells. Likewise, atypical autism is often accompanied by sensory experiences that are significantly different from those of children without the condition. 

Repetitive or ritualistic behaviors

Many children with atypical autism display repetitive behaviors indicative of autism such as hand flapping, rocking, and tapping. Repeating certain gestures, actions, or words is a soothing activity autistic children use as a way to feel a sense of control in stressful situations.

Other symptoms of atypical autism

Children with atypical autism may display a range of other symptoms typical of autism spectrum disorder, such as: 

  • Lack of empathy or sharing emotions with others
  • Inability to form age-appropriate peer friendships
  • Difficulty maintaining a conversation
  • Lack of meaningful language
  • Excessive interest in a specific subject area, such as trains, machines, or animals
  • Strong interest in objects, which is unrelated to their functional use
  • Unusual likes and dislikes
  • Lack of symbolic and pretend play
  • Failure to share attention, like showing objects to someone or pointing at something of interest
  • Uneven skill development, for example, normal development in some areas and delays in others, and
  • Difficulty accepting changes.

Diagnosing Atypical Autism 

If you think that your child might have symptoms of atypical autism, you should talk to their pediatrician or a primary care physician. They will refer you to a specialist—either a developmental pediatrician, child neurologist, psychiatrist, or psychologist—who will do a comprehensive evaluation of their development and behavior and make a diagnosis. 

Alternatively, you can request an evaluation from your state’s Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center without a doctor’s referral.

However, you should keep in mind that atypical autism or PDD-NOS is no longer used as an official diagnosis. Because it is not included in the DSM-5, atypical autism will probably not be diagnosed by your child’s physician. Depending on the quantity and intensity of autistic traits, your child will be classified as being on the autism spectrum and given a severity rating. After that, your child will receive an in-depth diagnosis that will be used to develop a personalized treatment plan that suits his or her particular needs. 

Children with atypical autism display great variations in their abilities, which can make diagnosing the disorder challenging. What’s more, atypical autism may be hard to detect because its symptoms are often mild and less disruptive than those of autism disorder. 

Finally, atypical autism is not to be confused with high-functioning autism, which describes children with autism spectrum disorder who have better functional communication and higher cognitive functioning than the others on the spectrum.

How ABA Therapy Can Help Children With Atypical Autism 

Even if your child is diagnosed with the equivalent of atypical autism and has relatively mild symptoms, the recommended treatments are likely to be very similar to those for autism spectrum disorder. Standard treatments that apply across the spectrum include speech or language therapy, occupational or physical therapy, and behavior and developmental therapy.

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is a form of behavioral therapy that focuses on changing unwanted behaviors and reinforcing desirable ones. It is one of the most successful interventions for helping children with autism learn desired behaviors. Research shows that ABA therapy is the most effective form of autism treatment, with an over 90 percent improvement rate.

ABA therapy is used to build and improve social and communication skills in children with autism spectrum disorder such as:

  • Following directions
  • Understanding social cues such as facial expressions and body language
  • Social skills like initiating conversations and responding to questions
  • Reducing problematic behaviors including tantrums
  • Basic academic and pre-academic skills.

ABA therapy breaks down each of the essential skills into small, concrete steps. It then builds toward more significant changes in functioning and independence levels. ABA therapy sessions consist of a combination of play, direct instructions, various activities, adaptive skills training, and parent guidance.

Applied behavioral analysis therapy typically uses positive reinforcement in the form of rewards and other incentives. When a desirable behavior is followed by a motivator, like a special toy or activity, children are more likely to repeat the action. Over time, this method can encourage positive behavioral changes in children with autism.

Because no two individuals with atypical autism are alike, ABA therapy provides targeted treatment based on your child’s individual strengths and weaknesses. The Hidden Talents ABA interventions are highly individualized and based on a thorough assessment by a qualified developmental specialist. The evaluation considers factors such as your child’s behavioral history, current symptoms, communication patterns, social competence, and neuropsychological functioning.

Contact us

If you think your child might have symptoms of atypical autism, you can talk to their pediatrician or a primary care physician in Atlanta. They will likely refer you to a specialist for a comprehensive evaluation. Feel free to contact us for more information about ABA therapy or to request an intake evaluation. You can call us at 404-487-6005, or fill out our contact form, and we’ll be in touch with you as soon as possible.

Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week

Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week is observed each year during February 7–14 to promote awareness and education about congenital heart defects. It affects approximately one in 100 births every year in the United States. It is the word’s most common birth defect. Take this week to raise awareness of congenital heart defects.

Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week, February 7-14

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